COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES W~MI/~G~~O~) .' O.C. 204 RESTRICTED c-- Not to be released outside the General Accounting Office except on the basis of specific approval by the Office of Legislative Liaison, a record of which is kept B-162407(6) by the Distribution Section, Publications Branch, OAS June 9, 1971 Dear Mr. Chairman:, As we reported on July 7, 1969, on our report on the au- tomatic data processing policiep, procedures, and practices at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California, we have kept abreast of JPL's progress incombining 'ie-business and Fcientific data processing operations/. As stated in our report, JPL had three major general data (rocessing organiza- tions at the time of our previous review."C-c- OV--Pro(SO >C, B--The Scientific Computing Facility (SCF), responsible 7 0 for furnishing computer support to all scientific, C<: < engineering, and technical functions. -- The Administrative Computer Services Facility, respon- sible for performing all business data processing (re- ferred to herein as business programs). -- The Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF), as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Deep Space Network, a command and control cen- ter that uses its data processing equipment for the preparation and support of mission flight analysis and control on an immediate-response-to-inquiries (real- time) basis, plus some scientific, engineering, and data reduction work. JPL was considering several methods of combining its business and scientific data processing operations, and it recently adopted a plan for combining the operations, which should reduce costs by $65,000 during fiscal year 1971 and $325,000 annually thereafter. Combination status at the time of our July 1969 report JPL initially considered combining its business and scientific data processing operations as early as July 1965; however, neither NASA nor JPL aggressively pursued this ob- jective. Major computer changes were being made without a prior determination of their effect on a possible data proc- essing combination. In 1969 JPL was exploring the advantages 9/~-,7 >7. SOTH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971 , -' B-162407(6) and disadvantages of processing the business load on the SCF Univac 1108 computing system. computing work tive was determined to be uneconomical because This alterna- of the high re- programming costs--estimated to be $1.5 million--to International Business Machines Corporation convert (IBM) 360 busi- ness programs for use on the Univac 1108 system. JPL believed, however, that a further study should be made natives, and it was at this point that we of other alter- completed our pre-- vious work and issued the July 1969 report. Combination of JPL's business and scientific data processing operations JPL started to reorganize its computer operations vember 1969 in an effort to centralize in No- responsibility over its general-purpose scientific and business computing responsibility for business operations was systems. The transferred to the Assistant Laboratory Director for Technical ready had responsibility for the two major Divisions, who al- centers--SCF and SFOF. This change, however,scientific computing did not result in an immediate consolidation of actual computer operations. In October 1969 and April 1970, IBM 360-75 computing systems, _xcess two Government-owned to the needs of two other NASA centers, were installed at JPL and replaced six large- scale SFOF computing systems. It became apparent to NASA that, with the addition of the IBM to JPL and 360-75 systems, other work could be placed on these systems to permit more ef- ficient utilization of equipment. In the past the use of SPOF computing systems had been limited to Deep Space Network and other space-flight-oriented work. In May 1970 NASA issued to JPL a set of guidelines clarifying its position on the IBM 360-75 systems and permit- ting the use of the IBM 360-75 computing systems mission support tasks on a noninterference for nonflight basis. JPL, after considering the impact of its data processing operations, proposed these guidelines on to of the processing of its business programs NASA the transfer to the IBM 360-75 2 B-162407(6) computers. This action would permit the release of JPL's IBM 360-40 business computing system without jeopardizing the op- erational. use of the IBM 360-75 systems. This alternative was considered cost effective and was consistent with the recom- mendations in our July 1969 report. JPL and NASA representa- tives discussed JPL's proposal and agreed to the following decisions. --Accelerate the transfer of business computing from the IBM 360-40 to the IBM 360-75. -- Terminate the lease of the IBM 360-40 at the earliest practicable date.' -- Convert the business programs to operate in a time- shared batch-processing mode by July 1971. In September 1970 JPL prepared a two-phase implementa - tion schedule for the conversion of the business programs to operate on the IBM 360-75 systems. The first phase, an in- terim measure completed in December 1970, transferred the busi- ness programs to operational use on the IBM 360-75 systems during the third shift on a block- or dedicated-time basis. The second phase, started in January 1971, involved converting the business'programs ta make them compatible for use with the 360-75 computers' real-time operating system to permit the processing of the business and scientific data on a time-shared basis. Phase two is scheduled for June 1971 completion. With the conversion of the business programs accomplished under phase one, JPL released the 360-40 on December 31, 1970. After phase two is completed, JPL's business programs will be processed along with other scientific and mission support programs under the IBM 360-75 real-time operating system and thereby eliminate the need for dedicated block time to process the business work load. Although processing priority will be given to some of the scientific and mission support work, suf- ficient computer capacity will be available for the business work load. To avoid possible interference at critical times during space flight missions, such as the upcoming Mariner 71 3 B-162407(6) launch, a backup IBM 360-75 computing system is process the business programs at the California available to Technology (CIT), also located in Pasadena. Institute of JPL estimates that it will incur about $110,00' tijne conversion costs in combining its business in one- and scientific data processing operations. With the release of its 360-40 business computing system, JPL estimates a net savings (i.e., after conversion costs) of about $65,000 in and about $325,000 in each subsequent year. fiscal year 1971 These reflect out-of-pocket costs and take into account estimates ment rentals, although other cost elements only equip- stay about the same. The estimated savings are expected to could be reduced by about $50,000 annually if CIT's computer has to be used as backup. Conclusion In our 1969 report to the Committee, we NASA provide guidance regarding combining the recommended that data processing centers at JPL. Subsequently, in May 1970 NASA issued guid- ance permitting JPL to use SFOF computers on business func- tions. We believe that the action taken by NASA and JPL on our recommendation will result in substantial savings to the Government for many years to come. We hope that the information presented will to you. We are sending copies of this letter be helpful to the Adminis- trator, NASA; however, we plan to make no further distribution of this report unless copies are specifically then we shall make distribution only after requested, and your agreement has been obtained or public announcement has been made by you con- cerning the contents of the letter. S' gely A Comptroller General of the United States The Honorable George P. Miller, Chairman Committee on Science and Astronautics House of Representatives 4
Combining Business and Scientific Data Processing Operations at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-06-09.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)